Why I Opted Out of Online Dating

Okay, I have a confession. Part of the reason I’m going to Sweden this summer is because I watched the entire series of True Blood and Vikings in recent months and not-so-subconsciously became determined to find a big Viking warrior of my own. (For the ten of you reading this who never watched True Blood, just google Alexander Skarsgard.) Yes, I know that in reality I will probably find more hipsters in Stockholm than warriors (or vampires), but leave me my fantasies.

I’m guessing many of you can relate to this or find it funny, but recently a friend shared an article with me that got me reflecting on how I’ve been spending my free time. The article, “Aussie singles choosing watching TV over finding a partner,” hit a little too close to home. How’s this statistic for an eye-opener:

“Australian singles are spending 6.8 hours a week watching television, while spending less than hour networking and looking for dates. What’s more, women are dedicating even less time looking for love than men, spending just 38 minutes a week actively looking.”

I read this and thought to myself, “Did I even spend 15 minutes this week looking?” Shit. I don’t think so.  And I definitely doubled the television hours. After all, this week I discovered Outlander. It’s like an x-rated version of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. And you know what, it makes me happy watching these shows. Genuinely. It’s like I’m getting a buzz off watching other people find love and be in love. In television, there’s so much anticipation and chase. There’s a man pursuing a woman who desires her, wants to defend her, can’t live without her. It’s beautiful. And I don’t really care that it’s idealized. It sure beats the bloody hell out of Tinder.

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Which brings me to my big realization – I don’t want to date the way that the majority of singles are dating these days. Online dating… swipe left, swipe right. “Wanna send me a naughty pic?” Barf. I want to pretend a world still exist where men know how to be men. That word use to mean something noble. Forgive me, I don’t want to make this sexist. I am sure men out there are also disgruntled, but this is my personal point of view.

Ten years ago, when I first tried online dating (good ole Match.com), people had conversations. They got to know each other over the phone. They went on dates. Sure, there were bad ones, but they were real dates. The dude on the other side of the table didn’t ask if I wanted to go back to his place before I even had time to digest.

Last year, I tried Tinder for a brief time. More than half of the guys I spoke to asked me for a nude picture or asked if I wanted to have casual sex before even asking me for a coffee. No, I’m not exaggerating. And these are guys whose profiles looked NORMAL. No shirtless pictures, no tacky headlines. Regular dudes, about my age, that probably work in cubicles.

I stopped using Tinder. Tinder makes me sad.

And I think, well, I’m 35, maybe people in there 20s really like dating like this. Who am I to judge? But it’s not for me. I haven’t given up on meeting someone. I haven’t given up on the idea of love, but I have given up on online dating. Somewhere in the last 10 years, online dating just evolved into something ugly. It killed romance.

I’m going to quote a fellow anti-Tinder blogger, Nev Schulman, who expressed the problem so well “In the age of internet dating, we’ve become amazing at looking for relationships and horrible at being in them.” It’s true, Nev, there are so many options that no one is making any choices, and if they are, no one is trying very hard to make a relationship last before giving up.

In real life, love is not instant. It’s not sustainably good sex. It’s not an interview process. It’s those times you see someone across a room and you find a way to start a conversation. You exchange phone numbers. You wait. You wonder. You hope. You spend time getting to know each other. It’s such a natural thing, I don’t know at what point it became more of a fantasy or something you only see on TV. But I guess for me, it did. And I suspect I’m not alone.

I feel hopeful when I see bloggers like Craig Schattner sharing their experiences. Criag is a disgruntled online dater in Washington D.C. who is examining what makes the singles scene so difficult. Check out his series, Dated, on The Washington Post TV. I’m pretty sure he’s going to find an amazing woman, because he’s out there doing something pretty amazing.

Crazy idea – Let’s speak up. Don’t let the majority roll us into their pool of vapid encounters and emptiness. I’m pretty sure if we spent a little more time being honest with each other we might find our way back to a better way of dating.

Until then, I guess I’ll be dreaming of Vikings and Scottish Highlanders. There are worse things…

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